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Ask a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist

August 27, 2020

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Zoe Martin. I graduated in 2019 from Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania, with my doctorate in Physical Therapy. I am highly trained in the function of the nervous, muscular, and skeletal systems of our body, and how to evaluate and treat these systems. After graduating, I moved to this beautiful region of the country with the desire to help people heal and regain the ability to do what is important to them. As a physical therapist, I treat a variety of conditions related to the neuromusculoskeletal system, ranging from low back pain, shoulder pain, dizziness, vertigo, pelvic floor dysfunction, and many other conditions. I treat all of these areas in a holistic manner, using a variety of techniques including manual treatment, behavioral strategies, movement, and lifestyle changes to allow people to do what they want to do. The pelvic floor is a region of the body that consists of nerves, muscles, and bones, just like all other areas in your body. The pelvic floor can be a source of pain, discomfort, and dysfunction, just like all other areas in your body. Pelvic floor physical therapy is a non-surgical approach to the rehabilitation of dysfunctions in the pelvis that contribute to bowel, bladder, sexual health, and pelvic pain complaints.

Why do you do what you do?

During physical therapy school, I was introduced to this topic in a course, which sparked my interest in the pelvic floor as I realized I had very little understanding of this part of the body. From this realization, my interest grew, as I began investigating the inner workings of the pelvic floor. My passion for this area of physical therapy has expanded since I have graduated, and I continue to take continuing education courses in this area of study. I am so excited to start this conversation and bring this knowledge to the people in the community I belong to, here in Asheville, NC. 

What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor consists of muscles in the pelvic cavity. These muscles are in three layers and have five major functions. These functions are to support the organs in your pelvis (bladder, rectum, reproductive organs), for sexual appreciation, to stop and start the flow of urine and passage of gas and stool, to aid in breathing, and to support the other “core” muscle stabilizers. 

Can’t I just do some Kegels? 

Just like every other area of your body, the pelvic floor is an area that requires a specific examination tailored to your needs based on your symptoms. Not everyone needs to do Kegels, and if you are doing these pelvic floor exercises the wrong way, it can actually have a detrimental effect on your functioning. Seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist who can guide you through how to do the appropriate exercises, and tell you how many and how often to do them is the best way to regain your function.

Do you only treat women?

As a pelvic floor physical therapist, I treat all genders. I am an inclusive physical therapist, and my main goal is to help anyone who needs it. Some conditions I treat are endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, urinary and fecal incontinence, prolapse, vaginismus, dyspareunia, vulvodynia, vestibulodynia, male pelvic pain conditions, diastasis recti, post-gender-affirming surgery, post-cesarean, post-hysterectomy, and others. 

 

What can I expect at my first visit?

I will assess you in a holistic manner, looking at everything from the way you walk, to the way you sit, to your hip muscle strength and flexibility, your core stability, your diet, and fluid intake, and, of course, your pelvic floor muscles. Based on your complaints, I may or may not complete an internal assessment on your pelvic floor musculature. This is within your comfort levels. I recommend wearing loose-fitting comfortable clothing and bringing an extra pad with you at these visits. The conversations we have will be completely confidential and we will be one-on-one in a private room, with the exception of a chaperone, who you can bring or we will provide if you would like to have someone else in the room with you. I will never do anything without your consent.

 

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